Travel Diary: Thailand

DAY FOUR. 

Today has really just been a full day of travel. I checked out of Tokyu Rei Hotel at 7am and made my way to Osaka Station. I found my way to the JR for the express service to Kansai and hopped on. Being inside the airport was amazing because of how much warmer it was! I checked in and found out that my flight was delayed two hours. Not great, but not terrible. At least it wasn’t cancelled! I caught up with an old friend from Sydney because she was at the airport too, on her way home, so that passed some time.

My flight to Kuala Lumpur was the BEST. I have never been so content on a flight. Great service, great food and a comfortable setup. I watched a bunch of movies thanks to Malaysian Airlines’ great film selections. I was very relaxed .

We landed in Kuala Lumpur at 7:15pm… and I had to be at my next gate by 7:30pm! Which was all the way on the other side of the airport. If you haven’t been to the Kuala Lumpur airport… it’s VERY BIG. That experience was not so relaxing. I legged it through the terminal and ended up being the very last passenger let through the gate. Thank goodness! I got a window seat and a row to myself so at least I had a comfortable flight setup again.

DAY FIVE.

I’ve been so busy that this diary entry will just be dot points!

  • Arrived in Bangkok and my luggage was lost, so I had to deal with that for the first time ever! Luggage has officially been in Malaysia longer than I ever have.
  • Airport transfer that I’d booked and paid for didn’t arrive so I had to get a taxi to my hotel instead. Turns out the taxi was extremely cheap and I’d been way over charged for my transfer anyway!
  • Met some of the Contiki gang in the lobby (after they walked back from a bar where they’d been held up by police for drinking on a religious holiday!) and we all stayed up chatting until about 2am when my luggage arrived – yay!
  • Breakfast at 9:30am the next day before exploring Bangkok.
  • There were eight of us from the Contiki tour so we went to see Wat Arun and Wat Pho (temples).
  • Had lunch at ‘Slow’ across the road from the hotel
  • Relaxed by the pool and met my Contiki roommate before the 6pm Kickstart meeting where we met our tour manager Jess
  • Went out for a night – a crazy night! – on Khao San Road! We ate dinner in a big group at the Nat Guest House, went to Lucky Beer Bar and met Jess, danced on the road, went to Rastafarian bar and went to a Ping Pong show in a tuktuk! CRAZY!
  • Went home for some sleep but I stayed up to repack my bag and do the first of many discards – this time I chucked out my $3 boots and a turtle neck

DAY SIX.

  • 7am breakfast at the hotel, followed by checkout.
  • Guided tour of the Grand Palace with our local guide, Nutty!
  • Private boat ride along the river where we fed the hundreds of Catfish bread
  • Walked home and we all had lunch at Jade’s House
  • Went to Khao San Road for shopping and Fishy Foot Spas!
  • Caught the coach to the train station and got on the very cool Sleeper Train to Chiang Mai!

DAY SEVEN.

We woke up this morning at 6am on the Sleeper Train to a little man yelling “You wake up please! Wake up!”. He swiftly moved through the cabin and turned all of our beds back into chairs. We had a bit of time to mingle before arriving in Chiang Mai! We were taken from the station in our new coach to our Chiang Mai hotel, The Empress, where we had the best breakfast imaginable! Waffles, omelettes, fruit, bacon, potatoes, juice… you name it, it was there and it was awesome. After breakfast we were all very excited to get ready to go and see the Elephant Sanctuary. It was an hour and a bit away so we all boarded little safari taxis to get there. When we got to the sanctuary we made elephant food out of tamarinds, salt and rice and fed them. The youngest elephant we saw was 6 and the oldest was 65. After they had eaten we took them down to the river to have a swim and a bath. The experience mixed with the scenery was unreal. It was a major highlight and I’m so glad I did it.

The next activity on the agenda was our Thai cooking class. We met our instructor Perm at the markets first where we spoke about all the ingredients we would be using and then we all went to his house where he taught us how to cook four traditional Thai dishes. We made Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai, Penang curry and chicken cashew nut. My Pad Thai was burnt but the rest was really yummy! I enjoyed the class a lot.

Afterwards we went to the markets to see the Ladyboy Cabaret! AMAZING! They were awesome and very funny. The best part was when four of the boys from our tour had to get up and be dressed in drag to be part of the show! Extremely hilarious.

We all went home after the show for a well deserved sleep. Party Night in Chiang Rai tomorrow!

DAY EIGHT.

Coming soon.

Travel Diary: Japan

DAY ONE.

I guess I finally did it! The big solo trip I have been wanting to go on for forever and a day. Although the plan had always been to travel solo in Europe, I am glad I changed my mind.

I arrived into Kansai International Airport at about 8:20pm. After going through immigrations, finding my suitcase, and visiting information desks, it was time to hop on the JR and head to Osaka station. Getting on the train was easy enough… it was the one and a half hour train ride that I found a little rough! I was expecting forty minutes tops so I was a little surprised. I have decided to turn my phone to roaming while in Japan to ease the difficulty of finding my way around – relying on WiFi is just not good enough for me on my lonesome. I’ll get better and more confident one day… but hey! I’m in another country completely on my own so it’s not a bad start, right?

When I got to Osaka Station I went outside and grabbed a taxi. It was nearly 11:30pm so I was now well and truly 12 hours into transit. The hotel was actually much closer to the station than I had realised, so the taxi fare was very cheap! My hotel check-in was smooth and painless and the room is super cosy. The bathroom is my favourite part – a tiny little bath tub and a toilet seat that kindly warms my very cold tush.

After putting two extra scarves on I went outside in pursuit of some food. I wasn’t properly fed on the plane thanks to a stuff up by my old travel agent so I was pretty darn hungry. There was a curry place across the road from my hotel – yum, Japanese curry! – so I decided to order there. After grabbing some bottles of water from the 7/11 and collecting my meal – as well as declining two invitations to the nearby bar in the process – I made my way back to the warmth of the hotel. I managed to load an episode of Gilmore Girls to watch while I ate, and once I was done it was a nice warm shower and off to bed.

DAY TWO.

I woke up at a quarter to 8 this morning and called my mum before getting ready to go to Universal Studios. I left the hotel at 9am and started the walk to Osaka Station. It was 6 degrees and raining so I was VERY glad to be wearing two scarves again. I bought an umbrella and, after much confusion and agitation, found my way to the Universal City train. I missed the train transfer and had to spend an extra 15 minutes fixing that but I eventually made it to Universal City Station.

I was cold and wet so I went into Starbucks to warm up. I ordered a white mocha and I was pretty nervous about it thanks to the disgusting drinks at the Starbucks in Sydney… but Japan knows what they’re doing! I will miss these when I leave.

I entered the park with my ticket and wandered through before deciding to spend most of my day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I had lunch at Mel’s Drive-In Diner and I saw the Monsters Rock’n’Roll Show. After that I walked around the park a little longer before deciding to go back to the Wizarding World to buy myself a wand (and drink some more Butterbeer).

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On the way out of Universal I had a quick look through the Universal CityWalk. I bought myself a denim jacket from The GAP before catching the train to Osaka-Namba Station. I wanted to find an Aussie bar I’d heard of called Coolabah. It was meant to be very close to the famous Dotonbori strip so I figured I’d hit two birds with one stone. I found the bar  eventually but it was still early so I was the only person in it and I didn’t find the staff very friendly, so I ordered some food and sat minding my own business. I regret not finding a cool Japanese place to eat but you live and you learn!

After dinner I moved through the streets in search of Dotonbori. I was very excited to see the giant Glico Man sign which indicated that I had indeed found Dotonbori. After taking a bunch of photos I Facetimed Mum and Dad to show them the hustle and bustle. I spent some time shopping in H&M and bought some warmer clothes – I might only have one day left in Japan but I’ll definitely be trying to make the most of it. My feet were very sore today because they were so cold so I’m hoping I have a more pleasant day tomorrow!

By the time I left the Dotonbori district it was 2am, so I found a taxi and got myself back to the hotel. It might snow tomorrow – fingers are crossed!

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DAY THREE.

Today was quite an adventure!

I woke up around 8am and repacked my suitcase in preparation for leaving Japan tomorrow. I’m nervous to buy anything in case the weight goes over – which isn’t very good considering I just got here!

I ended up leaving the hotel and arriving at Osaka Station around 11am. I figured out which train I needed and set off for Nara. On the way I caught my first ever glimpse of snowfall out the window of the train. Even better was that it was still snowing when I got to Nara! I ended up getting to feed the roaming deer IN THE SNOW! Pretty magical for someone who had never experience snowfall. It was very light but better than nothing. I enjoyed the experience for a while before making my way back to Nara’s Kintetsu Station to move on to Kyoto.

On the way to Kyoto it was really snowing. It was incredibly beautiful but I was absolutely frozen. I was wearing an extra two layers in comparison to yesterday but I was much colder. When I got to Kyoto I found a little coffee shop where I ordered a hot chocolate and an avocado and tuna panini. It’s crazy – the food in Japan is SO good and I haven’t even really had anything typically Japanese! It was 3pm by the time I finished lunch and dealt with some flight issues… so I turned around and headed back to Osaka Station. I literally just popped over to Kyoto for lunch!

When I got back to Osaka Station I spent about half an hour trying to find my way out to the street – it is such a HUGE station! When I finally made it out I noticed a large Red Ferris wheel in the distance, so I made my way over to it. It was called HEP Five and it was part of the Hankyu Entertainment Building. I got to do the Ferris wheel for free and happened to be at the very top for sunset. It was beautiful. Afterwards I found a ramen place for dinner and wandered through the building until it was time to go to the hotel.

I enjoyed a plunge bath when I got to the hotel – what I am sure will be my last moment of luxury for the next two weeks! Bags are packed… let’s go to Thailand!

 

2016

Well, well, well. What a year it was! 2016 was a really big one for me. A big, messy, crazy, spontaneous, horrible, fantastic year. A lot of things happened. So many things, in fact, that when I look back it’s hard to believe that it all happened in just one year. I’ll never really know if the decisions I made were the right ones but things are going pretty well at the moment so I’d hazard a guess that I did an okay job.

One big thing that happened in 2016 – I ACTUALLY stuck to a New Year’s resolution. Crazy, I know! A resolution I know many of us, including myself, make every single year – I lost weight! In 2016 I managed to shed seven kilos. This was a huge deal for me. I have five more to go before I hit my goal weight… but the point is I got started and I made a massive difference in my life. The gym is somewhere I actually really enjoy being these days and that in itself is a huge accomplishment for the person I was twelve months ago.

Another big thing to happen in 2016 – I booked my first solo overseas trip. After dreaming about travelling again since I came back from my school trip to Italy in 2011, I have finally followed through and I am now less than a month away from my departure to Japan. This big thing couldn’t have happened without the BIGGEST thing to happen in 2016…

In June I moved back to Cairns and left my Sydney life behind. This was by far the most life altering thing I have done in the last four years. I definitely didn’t take the decision lightly… but as I was crying into my lunch after being treated badly at work and feeling like I had absolutely no one in Sydney to talk to, I called my mum and said “I’m quitting my job this afternoon and I’m moving home in two weeks”. The next two weeks were a crazy whirlwind. Saying goodbye becomes really hard once you realise what you’re leaving behind. I struggled a lot with depression and anxiety in Sydney and I had some really great friends who did all they could to be there for me. I also had my entire adult life there – when I moved I had only just turned seventeen! But I did it. I packed up half my life and threw the other half in the bin, I packed the back of my Honda Jazz, and I drove all the way from Sydney to Cairns.

I’ve been back for seven months now and I have already achieved so much more in those seven months in Cairns than I ever would have in Sydney. I have booked and paid for a three week vacation in Asia, I was one of the lead characters in an original musical, I have been at my new job for six months (and I LOVE it), I turned 21 and got to have a night out with some of my very best friends, and I am actually really, genuinely happy – that last one is a big deal.

So here’s what I learnt from 2016:

  1. You aren’t happy? Say so, and change whatever is making you sad.
  2. A road trip on your lonesome can be extremely therapeutic.
  3. Just because you have to put a dream on hold doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
  4. Your job isn’t meant to be emotionally difficult – if it is, something is not okay.
  5. Heartbreak hurts just as much the second time but you will rebuild much faster.
  6. You can’t plan your whole life. You just can’t.
  7. It is possible to be homesick for a place you didn’t even realise was home.
  8. Fierce female friendships are the most important ones when in your early twenties.
  9. Life is extremely short – it’s time to start living the way you really want to.
  10. Don’t waste time with someone who doesn’t really and truly make your cells dance.

Katie

It’s Adventure Time!

Okay. After another few months of being totally rubbish at writing, I am back and here to stay!
(I say that every time, so let’s just see how we go… I really do love it here though, I swear!)

The reason for my sudden return?
Well, I thought it very important that I come back and shout to the world that I finally did it!

A couple of months ago, on the fifth anniversary of my last international departure (when I was lucky enough to travel to Italy with my high school Italian class), I finally booked my flights for my first ever solo international adventure! SOLO! In February – that’s next month! – me, myself, and I will be heading to ASIA for the trip of a lifetime. I will be setting off to explore Japan, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Over the moon is an understatement!

Originally I had planned to go to Europe for my first solo trip but when I came across the Asian Adventure Contiki tour I immediately fell in love. The idea of the cultural experience, the amazing Asian foods, the more affordable budget, and the much shorter plane trip had me singing Hallelujahs all the way to Flight Centre.

The Contiki actually only includes the three countries within South East Asia, but just before I booked I came across return flights to Osaka, Japan for only $250! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Japan so I tacked it on to either end of the trip.

I will fly into Osaka, where I’ll stay for two days, before heading to Thailand to start the Contiki tour. The Contiki will move through Thailand to Laos and then Cambodia, and once the tour finishes in Cambodia, I will fly back to Osaka for a ten hour stopover before flying home. Here’s to a year of amazing travel, starting with my very own Asian Adventure!

Katie

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”